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Judge Rules Against Elon Musk’s Lawsuit Targeting Anti-Hate Research Organization

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 28, 2024
Judge Rules Against Elon Musk's Lawsuit Targeting Anti-Hate Research Organization

Judge Rules Against Elon Musk’s Lawsuit Targeting Anti-Hate Research Organization

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Musk and his company, X, against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a nonprofit dedicated to researching online hate.

The lawsuit, initiated by X, alleged that CCDH disseminated misleading information through reports on hate and extremism online, resulting in substantial financial losses for X, amounting to “tens of millions of dollars.” Additionally, Musk and X accused CCDH of unlawfully scraping data and violating platform rules by using a third-party social media monitoring tool called Brandwatch. Musk, who personally led the legal action, referred to CCDH as “an evil propaganda machine” in responses on X.

Why Was the Lawsuit Dismissed?

CCDH fought back by filing a motion under California’s law against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP), aiming to dismiss X’s claims and prevent intimidation through frivolous lawsuits. Imran Ahmed, CCDH’s CEO, accused Musk of deliberately prolonging the legal process to increase the organization’s legal expenses.

United States District Judge Charles R. Breyer, overseeing the case in the Northern District of California, granted CCDH’s motion to dismiss, denying Musk and X the opportunity to pursue further litigation. Judge Breyer emphasized the lawsuit’s clear purpose, stating that it was brought to punish CCDH for criticizing X and to deter others from engaging in similar critiques.

CCDH: Advocating for Accountability

CCDH, founded in 2018, focuses on researching hate speech, extremism, and misinformation on major social networks. Its investigations cover a range of concerning content across platforms, from eating disorder content on TikTok to climate denial on YouTube and violent misogynistic threats on Instagram.

Following the ruling, CCDH’s CEO, Imran Ahmed, emphasized the affirmation of their right to research, speak, and hold social media companies accountable for decisions affecting fundamental rights and civil liberties. The nonprofit’s legal team, including prominent attorney Roberta Kaplan, hailed the decision as proof that even individuals of substantial wealth cannot manipulate the legal system to their advantage.

While this ruling is a win for those monitoring online extremism, Musk continues his legal battle against the left-leaning media watchdog, Media Matters for America, in Texas, where protections against frivolous lawsuits differ from California’s laws safeguarding free speech.

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Featured Image courtesy of Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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